I’ll be attending Readercon next weekend in Quincy, Massachusetts. Here’s my schedule. Three panels and a reading! Hope to see you there.
Friday July 14
12:00 PM 5 Writing Futuristic Fiction in 2017. Michael J. Deluca, Haris Durrani, Matt Kressel, Shariann Lewitt, Paul McAuley, Naomi Novik (leader).Speculative genre fiction has always had the ability to consider our future and shape it, so now that the present more sharply resembles the settings of some dystopian fictions, where do we as genre writers go next? Do we need to write more dystopian fiction to process our anxieties and warn against things getting worse, or do we need stories of hope, utopia, and resistance to get through a time that will be frightening and dangerous for many? Can editors and readers tell the difference between stories that were written before and after the election, and does it matter?
4:00 PM B Reading: Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel reads a new short story about AI, UBI, and job replacement.
6:00 PM C The Catastrophe of Success. Alex Jablokow, Jim Kelly (leader), Matt Kressel, Paul Levinson, Eric Schaller. In a 1947 essay called “The Catastrophe of Success,” Tennessee Williams wrote, “We are like a man who has bought up a great amount of equipment for a camping trip… but who now, when all the preparations and the provisions are piled expertly together, is suddenly too timid to set out on the journey…. Our great technology is a God-given chance for adventure and for progress which we are afraid to attempt.” This is a very 1940s SFnal way of looking at technology and the world. We are in Williams’s future, with 70 years of perspective to add to his still-relevant observation. What has changed in the human relationship to technology since 1947, and what has stayed the same? How can present-day SF explore this tension between what technology allows us to do and the fear that holds us back?
Saturday July 15
12:00 PM 6 Is There a Law of Conservation of Utopia?. John Crowley, Michael J. Deluca, Karen Heuler, Matt Kressel, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Wes Rist. Readercon 27 included panels on utopias, dystopias, and apocalypses, and in all the panels the distribution of utopian experience was noted to be uneven: one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia. Authors often create tension by showing the dystopian underpinnings of seemingly utopian cultures (as in The Hunger Games and The Time Machine). How could an author depict a true universal utopia where life is genuinely better for everyone while still writing a satisfying story? Or is there a law of conservation of utopia in fiction such that the amount of happiness in a fictional culture remains constant, and any utopia for some has to be a dystopia for others in order to drive the plot?